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Teacher unions argue reopening charter schools is a ‘huge mistake’

8 April, 2024

Interviews by Faith Carolyn Ward

New Zealand Post Primary Teachers' Association President, Chris Abercrombie, says the government’s decision to reinstate charter schools will “suck money out of the state sector into private hands”.

The unions representing primary and secondary school teachers have criticised the coalition government reintroducing charter schools.

This comes after Associate Education Minister, David Seymour, announced the creation of an establishment board to re-open Charter Schools by 2025.

Seymour claims charter schools will “give educators more autonomy, create diversity in New Zealand’s education system, and increase overall educational achievement”.

New Zealand Post Primary Teachers' Association President, Chris Abercrombie, told 95bFM’s The Wire that it would be better for the government to invest in public education.

"It's a huge mistake. Charter schools are an expensive distraction. They suck money out of the state sector into private hands."

Charter schools are private or independent schools that receive government funding, but can set their own curriculum, hire teachers without formal qualifications, and choose how they use their funding.

From 2013 to 2018, the previous National government paid charter school sponsors $89 million to set up and run 17 charter schools, but they were shut down by the Labour government in 2018. 

Ministry of Education documents have revealed significant gaps in monitoring charter schools and their owners during this time, including no independent measures of student achievement, no assurance the schools were attracting the priority learners they were meant to serve, inadequate financial monitoring, and poor-quality facilities.

New Zealand Education Institute President, Mark Potter, told The Wire that charter schools will not fix issues in the education system.

"We just don't see the positive benefit to children to have charter schools."

“Most schools would like to have less compliance issues put on them by central government. Why do you have to create charter schools to do that?”

Listen to the full interview with Chris Abercrombie and Mark Potter

Public Interest Journalism Funded Through NZ On Air